Please Join Us For a Riveting Discussion of Francine Rivers’ “The Masterpiece” on Monday, February 25th, 6:30-8:00 p.m.

Friends! You and your friends and neighbors are invited to our next Branches Book Club meeting, on Monday, February 25th, at Middletown United Methodist Church, where we’ll discuss Francine Rivers’ compelling and page-turner of a novel, The Masterpiece. (We meet from 6:30-8:00 p.m.)

While it’s a tome, I read it in no time, quickly loaning it to a friend so she could enjoy it. Fast forward to this week when I called on our faithful friend and fearless leader, Nancy Tinnell to come up with a “teaser” to get you to book club. Let’s learn a little more about The Masterpiece…

Here’s Nancy:

“Francine Rivers has done it again. She creates characters that compel us to lean in to them. We are drawn to them like flies to honey, and, if you’re like me, you can’t wait to finish the book to see how the story will end.

The Masterpiece has that wonderful element of bad boy/good girl that we so often love in our novels, but this one has a twist. The bad boy is somewhat reformed from his juvenile “tagging” days, but he has some distance yet to travel. Our good girl does not feel truly good because of her past. I got so caught up in Grace and Roman’s story that I wished I could climb into the pages and counsel both of them.

The bonus in the book is the cast of characters surrounding our primary duo. I even got drawn into their stories! Thank you, Francine. This book does not disappoint. If they ever make a movie based on it, I could see Antonio Banderas playing Roman. But I’m not sure about the actress to play Grace. Reese Witherspoon, maybe?

We are giving a nod to the book’s location (California coast) by making healthy, coastal snacks our food theme. When we get together for book club, I’m dying to ask your opinion on something in the book, but it will have to wait. I have to leave you with that teaser for now.”

 

Thank you, Nancy!

So, girls, you can tell we will have quite a discussion.  If time allows, please bring a California Coastal treat per Nancy’s suggestion and RSVP to her at (502) 245-3839. We look forward to seeing you next Monday night!

’Til next time!

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

Advertisements

1 Comment

Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews

When Your Beloved Pet is Diagnosed with Cancer…

Friends! It’s been several sad weeks here in the Hoagland household. Our beloved Gracie, our wire-haired fox terrier who was only 7 1/2 years old, got sick on Christmas Day and got worse and worse, week after week, until we discovered she had liver cancer and lymphoma. Only five days after that hard-to-believe diagnosis, we knew “it was time.” Beyond awful.

I know many of you have been thru’ this. One of our dear couple friends dropped off a new-to-us children’s book you need to know about: It’s called Dog Heaven by Cynthia Rylant.

The book is super sweet and we will enjoy sharing it with our grandchildren later while it helped comfort us immediately.  Additionally wonderful, our six children commissioned a super talented local artist to create a watercolor of our Gracie. What a keepsake.

Special thanks go to Taylor Grimm! Find her on Instagram at: Taylor_Leigh_Grimm

Since we’ve been empty nesters, Gracie has been our little shadow, going everywhere with us, especially my better half. We logged miles and miles a day walking with her, she chased a thousand and one squirrels, and was quite the mole hunter and conqueror.

Claire “calms” Gracie before bedtime…

Gracie perches over Poppy’s shoulder while he reads to Claire Bear.

Gracie’s favorite hangout, by the fire…

The Great Squirrel Hunter…

Thankfully, I remembered an invaluable resource we read years ago in book club: Heaven by Randy Alcorn. It’s a tome, and is seminary-worthy. Even tho’ we read it over the summer to discuss once we resumed in the fall, it was a little more than we bargained for.

We howled when the children’s version came out about the time of our meeting. However, the adult version is truly a resource readers can consult over and over for just about any topic you’d be interested in. (Try 12 sections, 46 chapters!)

Yes, there’s a chapter called, Will Animals, Including Our Pet’s, Live Again? You can bet I went to grab the book and reread this chapter.

Let’s read the first paragraph (Ch 40):

“Christ proclaims from his throne on the New Earth: ‘Behold I am making all things new’ (Revelation 21:5 ESV). It’s not just people who will be renewed but also the earth and ‘all things’ in it. Do ‘all things’ include animals? Yes. Horses, cats, dogs, deer, dolphins, and squirrels—as well as the inanimate creation—will be beneficiaries of Christ’s death and resurrection.”

Two well-known authors are also quoted in this chapter. First, let’s hear from Joni Erickson Tada from her book on Heaven:

And you all will LOVE to read this poem from none other than John Piper:

Randy Alcorn’s chapter on pets also includes answers to:

“How closely are animals tied to our resurrection?”

“Will extinct animals live on the new earth?”

“Will our pets be restored on the new earth?”

“Is it wrong to grieve a pet’s death?”

“What future is God planning for animals?”

“Might some animals talk?”

You can tell these are deep questions, Likewise goes the rest of the book. You’ll get to see and read Scripture after Scripture on animals (in this particular chapter) and see the wonder and the love the Lord gives us through our pets, ultimately created for God’s glory.

Already John and I’ve been asked the big question, “So, will you get another dog?”  To which, for today, I’ll answer “no.” We wish (!!!) to hold off until our future grandchildren arrive (two grandsons super soon, Lord willing!) and we see how much time we’d have to raise a puppy!?!

Meanwhile to those of you who’ve survived losing a pet, we’re with you. Gracie’s our third terrier and it gets much more difficult each time.

So, as Bob Hope would sing, Gracie, “Thanks for the memories…”

‘Til next time!

11 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Family, Grief, Life Lessons

Grab Your Galentines! Come Shop and Eat Chocolate at Belle Monde Boutique Next Saturday, February 9th 11:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Friends!  First off, did you know your girlfriends these days are known as Galentines?  I kept thinking my friend, Nikki Knight, owner of Belle Monde Boutique, was repeatedly making typo’s when she’d text me about doing a Galentine’s event. Even Target has a “Galentines” section. Yesterday I got an email from Lilly Pulitzer especially for Galentines.  Who knew?

Galentines is supposed to be celebrated the day before our Valentine’s Day with your special girlfriends.  Even more fun, we’re going to celebrate earlyYou and your Galentines are invited to come shop, eat chocolate, and drink tea, coffee, or hot chocolate on Saturday, February 9th from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at Belle Monde Boutique. (I’ll be signing my new book, Let’s Be Friends:  What My Sister-Friends Taught Me About Faith, Food, and FunA perfect gift for your Galentines!)

Belle Monde Boutique is located in the heart of St. Matthews, at 115 Fairfax Avenue,   in a darling house filled with even more darling clothes.  Owner Nikki Knight offers new and pre-owned well-made clothing brands.

Nikki and I both hail from Lexington. (GO CATS!) We had a blast many moons ago when she was on staff at Southeast Christian Church and I was helping with the book club.

I can attest to the quality and variety of clothing Nikki offers having shopped at Belle Monde recently.  One of several  purchases I made is a gray, wool poncho.  It’s been a huge staple during these cold days and cost me a whopping sixteen dollars!  I’m not kidding.  (I went with several friends to celebrate my buddy Sherry Leavell and her new book Grateful Living.) We had a ball trying on everything from yoga wear to evening gowns.

Another reason to come on Saturday, February 9th is Nikki is generously offering all customers an extra 20% off of the ticketed items as well as having in-store specials! 10% of the proceeds will go to the Junior League of Louisville, benefitting the Little Libraries.

Belle Monde’s regular hours are Tuesday thru’ Friday from 10-7, Saturday from 10-6, the Knight family  savors the Sabbath on Sundays, therefore they close on Sunday, and Mondays are by appointment only.

Nikki says, “I want to encourage and empower women to live a life of confidence, love, and intentionality.”  She knows her stuff, girlfriends, and she can outfit you from head to toe (you can even find shoes, purses, jewelry, etc.), making you look like a million bucks.  Give her a call at (502) 403-3432.

Bring a carload of friends (Galentines!) and come shop and fill your chocolate cravings, sip coffee, tea, or hot chocolate with us on Saturday, February 9th!  I’ll be there to cheer you on from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.  Don’t miss this fun opportunity.  And as I always say, there are few things more fun than finding a bargain!

‘Til next time!

Here’s THE gray poncho!  Favorite-bargain-ever, with fam on Christmas Eve

2 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Let's Be Friends

You’re Invited to Book Club Featuring TWO Authors Next Monday, January 28th!!!

Friends!  Have we ever got a double-header for you next Monday night, January 28th from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. You do not want to miss this! Grab several buddies and hustle over to Middletown United Methodist Church for what promises to be an eye-opening evening…

We will be discussing Michelle Ule’s fascinating non-fiction book, Mrs. Oswald Chambers:  The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling DevotionalWhile Michelle lives in California, she’s promised to send us a video sharing highlights and tidbits of Biddy’s life, how the book came to be, etc. This is very exciting and generous of Michelle to share her time with us.

I first learned of Michelle and her book via an Eric Metaxas interview (www.metaxastalk.com ).  It was so compelling, I quickly ordered and devoured the book and have given several friends copies of it.  It reads like a novel even tho’ it’s all true! (You may read more from my post about it from 12/13/17.)

Not only will we be blessed by words from Michelle Ule, we are also having a local author, Sherry Leavell, come and share snippets from her new and inspiring devotional, Grateful Living.  You will also hear the uncanny story of how she came to write this lovely book.  (Spoiler alert:  Liz Curtis Higgs had something to do with it!)

Finally I’ll be sharing a couple of teasers from Michelle’s new novel, which has lovely appearances and pearls of their faith from Biddy and Oswald, called A Poppy in Remembrance. To read more about it, here’s the link from when I wrote about it:  10/24/18.

Believe me, this will be an exciting evening and your brain will be bursting forth with wisdom afresh, challenging you and your walk with the Lord.

Since Biddy served tea at a moment’s notice, we will also be serving tea Monday night and little snacks to go along with it. We may even have a wild card of some cake.  Let’s just say I’m doing some “research.” Hey, someone’s gotta do it! Stay tuned…

We look forward to seeing you Monday night, January 28th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Bring a car load of book buddies by all means! Please RSVP to Nancy Tinnell @ (502) 245-8839.

11902 Old Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 http://www.middletownumc.org

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Clubs, Book Reviews

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? What We May Have Missed from Mister Rogers…

Friends!  I’ve just discovered a wonderful book that’s chock full of “spiritual toast sticks.”  Grab a cup of joe and join me…

Whether you were a fan of Mister Rogers growing up or not, I predict you’ll become one after diving into this book:

The Simple Faith of Mister Rogers:  Spiritual Insights from the World’s Most Beloved Neighbor

Author Amy Hollingsworth takes us on a journey where we gain a birdseye view of her relationship with Mr. Rogers.  She worked in television with CBN and has written five books. She’s also a pastor’s wife.

After Amy’s first interview with Fred Rogers, they forged a long-time friendship. They wrote to each other for eight years, until Fred’s death from stomach cancer in 2003. Many excerpts from their letters are shared. Beautiful Scripture is expounded on plus great anecdotes are included in each chapter, including the story of Mr. Rogers’ car being stolen, and then returned, once the thiefs realized who it belonged to!

Amy tells us of Mr. Rogers’ first friendship he recalls when he was but five years old.  It was with an elderly neighbor, Mama Bell, who taught him how to make toast sticks.  He loved being able to make something for himself, popping the bread into the toaster, then buttering it and putting jelly on it prior to cutting it into four sticks.

His words of wisdom became what Amy calls “spiritual toast sticks.”  She says they are “sustenance to be shared.” She divides them into three parts in her book, each with three beautiful chapters:  Toast sticks for the heart, eyes, and hands.

We learn Mr. Rogers intended to attend seminary after college, but he landed in tv before that could happen.  He did later become a Presbyterian minister, thanks to studying during his lunch hours. (Don’t miss that story!) His degree in music composition came from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida,  which I happened to have also attended. (Only for one year before going to UK.)

Mr. Rogers’ degree from Rollins obviously came in handy considering he wrote over two hundred songs and filmed more than nine hundred episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The first three chapters under the first spiritual toast stick happen to be my favorite.  The other six chapters are excellent as well, tho’, don’t miss them, especially chapter nine on “Heading Toward Heaven.” I’ll give you a few teasers to get you going…

Chapter One is called, “The Importance of Taking Time. The Importance of Silence.”  I was reminded each episode of his show opened with “a shot of a traffic lights flashing in yellow caution mode. That message is the essence of every episode:  It’s time to slow down.” He also warned his audience against hurry, and often sang the song, “I Like to Take My Time.”

You may be as shocked over this as I am:  Yale psychologists compared Mister Roger’s Neighborhood to Sesame Street, which was much more fast-paced than Fred’s.  They concluded, “Children who watched his show were more likely to be patient in waiting for materials or for an adult’s attention, saying there was an increase in ‘tolerance of delay.’”

One of Fred’s favorite writers was Henri Nouwen. They became close friends.  He quotes him often. Fred said, “Even though most of the world knows Henri best by his words, I’ve come to recognize his deepest respect for the still, small voice among the quiet of eternity. That’s what continues to inspire me.”

Fred believed everyone should experience silence daily.  He went so far as to suggest a moment of silence when he was invited to the White House on one occasion.  He declared, “Would you please just have a half-minute of silence to think about somebody who has helped you become who you are?”

After the meeting, a guard approached Fred and told him of his grandfather’s brother being so kind to him, offering him a fishing pole.  He said he probably loves to fish today because of that gift when he was so young. He was about the same age Fred was when he learned to make toast sticks from Mama Bell.

Silence is a gift as well as a legacy when you share it with others.

Chapter Two is entitled, “A Presence Transformed by Prayer.” With an emphasis on daily rituals, not only on his show, but in his personal life, Fred stuck to the same schedules. We learn predictability also brings comfort.

His personal routine included rising at 5:00 a.m. for “prayer, reflection, and Bible reading; followed by a 7:30 swim (where he weighed in at 143 pounds daily); followed  by his usual workday routine; keeping a 9:30 p.m. bedtime. Each morning he prayed for his family and friends by name.”

He sang a song his friend, Henri, taught him called, Jubilate Deo prior to diving into the pool.  Before the taping of his show, he’d say, “Dear God, let some word that is heard be Yours.”

Scores of people agreed Mister Rogers had a calming effect on those he encountered, whether in person or via the tv.  Amy called him “Mother Teresa in a cardigan.”  (My poker face just left the building.)

Don’t miss the story about the Sturgis Pretzel House where Mr. Rogers took his viewers one day.  It’s a memorable lesson on prayer.  (Not spoiling it!)

Amy said of this toast stick on prayer:

Finally, Chapter Three is “The Wondrous Work of the Holy Spirit.” In this chapter, we readers are introduced to an interesting concept, that of holy ground.  Fred believed, “…the space between the television set and the viewer is holy ground.”

Words from an old pastor friend Fred enjoyed builds on this concept:

“What is offered in faith by one person can be translated by the Holy Spirit into what the other person needs to hear and see. The space between them is holy ground, and the Holy Spirit uses that space in ways that not only translate, but transcend.”

This quote is followed by several testimonies from celebrities who viewed Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and were moved for one reason or another, usually markedly changing their lives forever.  Don’t miss Lauren Tewes (who played Julie McCoy on The Love Boat) or Beth Sullivan who during a long-term illness discovered Mister Rogers’ show and later went on to create and produce Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman!

The Epilogue centers around 1 Timothy 6:20 which says, “guard what has been entrusted to your care.” It hadn’t occurred to me the huge responsibility Amy must’ve felt in writing this book about Mr. Rogers.  She discovered the word “trust” is translated in the Greek as “deposit.” Thus Paul’s words to Timothy challenged her to greatly render what she’d learned from Mr. Rogers and share it with the world.

Great job, Amy!  I learned so much and I know anyone who reads your book will do the same and enjoy the journey. Thanks for being brave enough to write it!

Here are the other chapters to further entice you to read the whole book:

4 – The Best Gift:  Your Honest Self

5 – Who is My Neighbor?

6 – The Power of Forgiveness

7 – The Least of These

8 – Difficult Times

9 – Heading Toward Heaven

A favorite quote by Saint Francis of Assisi, which I first learned when attributed to President George Herbert Walker Bush, is also said of Mister Rogers:  “Preach the gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.”

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and grab this powerful book.

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

4 Comments

Filed under Book Reviews, Family

Grab This Devotional for You, Your Kiddos, and Grands! You’ll Learn More Than You’d Ever Guess…(with help from Louie Giglio)

Friends!  This past Christmas, I bought FOUR copies of Louie Giglio’s devotional for our grands and our library. Let me tell you why…

You may be familiar with pastor, speaker, teacher, and writer, Lou Giglio. He’s who started the Passion conference for 18-25 years olds and their leaders.  These conferences have been filling arenas for years.  Just a week ago, four different arenas sold out to thousands who got to hear messages from Louie, Christine Caine, and Matt Chandler, with worship being led by David Crowder and Kari Jobe, among others.

Louie and his wife, Shelley, pastor Passion City Church and make their home in Atlanta, Georgia.

Louie says the Passion movement “exists to call a generation to leverage their lives for the fame of Jesus.” Early on, their story connected to the confession found in Isaiah 26:8 (now known as the 268 Declaration) which says,

So, let’s dive into this eye-opening devotional aimed at kids, but equally interesting for us adults.  It has 100 devotions based on four categories:  Space, Earth, Animals, and People.  Each entry opens with a Scripture, a brief devotional with pictures, always ending with a fun fact called, “Be Amazed,” and a simple prayer.

Louie tells us, “My prayer is you’ll be truly amazed and in awe as we learn that the God who created Betelgeuse, one of the biggest stars we know about, also created YOU—from the number of hairs on your head to the color of the skin on your toes. This indescribable Creator knows you better and loves you more than anyone on Earth ever  could.”

One of many favorite entries is #36, called “The Eyes Have It.”  Our Scripture is,

In this entry, we learn that at five months into a baby’s life in utero, his/her eyes will have two million optic nerve endings. (“One million stretched out from your brain to meet and match up with another million optic nerve endings stretched out from your eye.”)

Louie asks, “Can you imagine matching up two million different wires and getting them all exactly right?” He teaches us that’s what God does when making our eyes. This is just one of many reasons each and every baby is an absolute miracle.

And while at five months, babies can’t see yet, at six months, the skin covering of the eyes separate, giving us eyelids. How beyond wild is that?

Now, let’s “Be Amazed: Chameleons have some of the coolest eyes around.  A chameleon can see in a total 360-degree circle—all the way around its body. Each eye can move separately from the other, so it can look in two different directions at once!”

And, let’s pray:

There are ninety-nine more equally fascinating entries in this devotional.  It’s impossible to choose a favorite. Each can be a great topic at your dinner table! (The day after Christmas I read another fascinating entry about the starfish, entry #90, to all six of our adult children who loved it. Boys and girls, young and old will gobble this devotional up. The challenge will be to only read one at a time!)

‘Til next time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Grandchildren

When You Uncover a Treasure in a Pile of Books… (Who knew Charles Dickens wrote about the Lord?)

Friends!  In the Christmas frenzy, I was delighted to discover an old book of mine which has a crazy story.  Published in 1934, it looks old and tattered, its pages yellowed.  Sadly I have no recollection of having read this, but was beyond excited to learn of its story and you can bet I’ll be sharing it with our grands.

Many of us are already familiar with the many works of Charles Dickens:  A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities, and David Copperfield just to name a few. Who knew Charles was a strong believer and wrote a book based on the gospel of Luke for his children?

Here’s the book. (It just had its two hundredth anniversary!)

The Life of Our Lord written by Charles Dickens for His Own Children

The story reveals Charles Dickens wrote The Life of Our Lord about the time he wrote David Copperfield somewhere between 1846 and 1849.  John M. Makeham had accused him of irreverence in The Mystery of Edwin Drood to which Charles replied,

He later declared in a letter to his youngest son who was traveling at the time to Australia, “I put a New Testament among your books for the very same reason, and with the same hopes, that made me write an easy account of it for you when you were a little child. Because it is the best book that ever was or will be known in the world.”

For unknown reasons, Charles did not want The Life of Our Lord published, he wanted it kept only for his children.  When he finished the manuscript, he had eight children, the youngest of which was two years old.

His wife’s sister, Georgina Hogarth, “sacredly guarded the manuscript as a precious family secret.” Upon her death, the manuscript fell to Dickens’ “youngest child, Sir Henry Fielding Dickens, along with the admonition it should not be published while any child of Dickens lived.” While reading this, I keep shouting out loud, “BUT WHY???”

Once Sir Henry died, he gave the manuscript to his wife and children, allowing them to decide if it should be published, and if so, the proceeds should go to them into equal shares. Lo and behold, the family decided to publish, and The Life of Our Lord finally was shared with the world.

Rachel Taft-Dixon created the illustrations which are bright and beautiful with a classic touch. The light always surrounding Christ is take-your-breath-away beautiful.

Charles begins the book with,

While the Book of Luke has twenty-four chapters, Charles’ book, which summarizes Luke’s, has just eleven. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it over the month of December.  I believe your family would enjoy reading this next Christmas season, if not before!

It will also warm your heart to see someone like Charles Dickens laying out the Gospel with a beautiful sense of urgency for his children to grasp it in their own lives.  Isn’t that what we all want for our own children and grandchildren?

Run, don’t walk to your nearest bookstore and secure what’s sure to be a must-read at the very least during the Christmas season.  Or, why not begin the New Year with it?

May you have a most blessed, Happy, Healthy, 2019.

‘Til next time!

 

P.S.  Checkout my new author website, thanks to my publisher, WestBow Press.  It launched about a month after my book did. (Note there’s also a link to this blog and website on the author website which includes information about where you can get my book if you don’t live in Louisville. Thanks!)

www.authorelizabethhoagland.com

You may also email me if I you’d like my book for a friend or family member and I’ll be happy to send it to you:

elizabeth.hoagland@icloud.com

 

1 Comment

Filed under Book Reviews